Cause of Climate Change

What is the real problem mitigating climate change?

Of the 265,000 square miles of the Columbia River drainage (size of France) none of its tributaries flow free to the ocean, trapping all particulate matter as well as co2, methane, and sediments behind its dams, effectively halting the natural processes the earth performs to maintain equilibrium.

This process is reduced over 70%

The Columbia is only one system. Over 70% of the worlds rivers no longer flow free, to irrigate crops and produce hydroelectric power. The natural ecocycles of planet earth are effectively ruined.

And it appears now that hydroelectric power has a greater impact on the worlds carbon cycle than fuel powered generators. (1)

Irrigation traps the particulate matter in a never ending cycle, re-spreading it on the land over and over what should be washed out to sea and cycled.

There are 70,000 large dams worldwide and another 3700 planned. These are huge carbon sinks, whose impact has been dismissed as “renewable” and “clean” for a hundred years or more. Over the next 15 years 90% of the worlds rivers will be dammed, and along with it so will we.

Whatever we do to mitigate climate change will most likely be a bust, as long as our rivers and dams are used as they are.

Dams are a major driver of global environmental change(2) But as usual, humankind will continue to address the wrong problem having no idea that their fixes are only going to make the problem worse.

It is really no wonder why climate change has accelerated with the building of dams. Electric cars will not solve anything at all.

Author: jim-

One minute info blogs escaping the faith trap.

67 thoughts on “Cause of Climate Change”

  1. Just wanted to mention that much of nuclear has been using hydro forever. Because some use vertical hydro by exchanging water between underground reservoirs (each one at a different elevation usually within disused coal mines), we don’t equate the two forms of reservoirs. But water at elevation is an excellent way to store energy that can be released at a steady rate. During low energy demand, the power station uses excess power to pump water to the higher elevation reservoir. During peak demand, the water is allowed to descend to a lower elevation going through turbines. Jim would have us believe this adds more carbon to the atmosphere than running carbon fueled generators for the same amount of power generation. This is absolutely, unequivocally not true.

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    1. This reminds me of the Seep lakes at O’Sullivan reservoir. The Columbia reclamation project that pumps 4 billion gallons a day at peak to fill Banks Lake and creates a series of canals ending at O’Sullivan dam, created a series of lakes called the potholes. This incidental series of lakes is now a managed wetland, fishery, and bird sanctuary. I’m not saying this is good or bad, but it certainly was unforeseen. Now desert habitat has an artificial dependency on the dams existence.
      Btw, Jim wouldn’t have us believe anything but that our actions have consequences. I’m sure filling a coal mine with water has none of that 😉

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      1. The Corps of Engineers just love building dams and levees and reservoirs. I’m sure we are in agreement that just because we can doesn’t mean we should. Everything has a cost/benefit component and rarely has the analysis a line item for sustainable natural environments. They are there in existence for a reason and we ignore these at our peril. I am not a fan of open air reservoirs, just to be clear, but I am a fan of building these in the smartest, least intrusive ways possible.

        And I am always amazed at how often people make really important choices – like building on properties – without first understanding the locale and how nature operates there and then respecting it enough to impact it the least. It’s like people who buy a place in the summer with zero concern about, say, snow removal in the winter; buy riverfront property on flood plains and invest a huge amount of money in some suburban dream home and then watch it all float away when the plain, in fact, floods. Look at the development of communities in the western and southern US completely dependent on highly threatened water supplies like the one you mention. Are we shocked when fast dwindling water supplies disappear? Apparently… and so lawsuits will fix everything, donchaknow.

        So of course our actions have consequences – intended or not – so we have to balance those ‘costs’ with ‘benefits’. That’s why I think the wisest course is to use the principle of sustainability against which to compare and contrast proposals. And everything WILL have a cost, but the cost isn’t reason enough to stop altering our environment to meet our needs. If we allow this to happen, to use ‘cost’ as a reason to stop altogether (because it has an environmental impact), then social chaos, violence, and mass suffering will occur. People WILL act in their own best interests. So, the trick is to find that middle ground that balances environmental impacts with the sought after benefits. And the best measuring tool that leans towards the least amount of harm to all is sustainability. In other words, can this practice go on indefinitely without drawing down and bankrupting the natural world? On this metric, hydro needs to go vertical rather than open air horizontal to become sustainable in a changing climate world. Sure, this will have some environmental impacts but they are trivial compared to the problems and costs of horizontal storage. And the power storage they offer dwarfs the environmental costs of creating the same storage capacity in batteries AND carbon-based fuel. This is why I keep saying the principle of reservoirs for hydro (and other economic spinoffs) is ‘good’ but there are FAR better ways to harness it for power than creating thousands of environmentally degrading reservoirs and all the unsustainable effects these have downstream.

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  2. Yeah. The environmental impact of hydro dams is pretty dismal. The have destroyed wildlife habitats, altered watersheds and displaced millions of people.

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    1. Humans tend to think of salmon as a fish, a food source. But what role the millions of carcasses played on the ecosystem, developed over a million years is neglected. What was the purpose of that particular species on the environmental stability of our entire region?
      Is it just a random fluke of nature, or was a salmon the result of an organisms evolutionary tuning towards homeostasis?
      Every ecologist knows in there professional life that everything existing in its natural state is a key component of the whole, yet live their personal lives like a Christian —that they are somehow separate or superior to it. We evolved to live in the unaltered environment —and we have altered it beyond its ability to keep up.

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      1. Does the universe have an underlying purpose? I don’t think so. But I agree that we should take into consideration how our actions will impact our immediate environment and the symbiotic relationships with other species within that environment.

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        1. It doesn’t have an underlying purpose, but since these things seem to be important to our survival (which seems necessary to us) it would be in our benefit to consider our actions in relationship to it. It’s all about money, which as Tildeb refers electric cars will succeed if profit is involved, not planetary longevity.

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          1. True. I’m skeptical as well. If we convert all 290 million US vehicles from ICE to electric, it will require an extra 7 TWh of power to supply that energy (assuming they require ~24 kWh of electricity to charge). How will this extra energy be generated? (Especially in areas where wind and solar are unreliable sources of energy)

            And what about the environmental impact of mining lithium? Or it’s disposal? And what happens after the known world reserves become depleted?

            I suspect that once everything is taken into consideration, the total life-cycle cost of EVs isn’t going to be much lower than that of our current fossil fuel counterparts.

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            1. Yeah, too much or too little seems to be the new norm.

              I’m sure most people are aware but, just in case, I’ll mention that overland flooding is not a part of homeowner’s insurance but a separate policy altogether. (This is relatively new.) Many people people presume they have coverage because they see the word ‘flood damage’ inside their policy when, after the deluge, they find out they do not. The same is true for fire damage from forest or brush fires. Just a head’s up… and perhaps something worth checking out with the insurance people who sold you the policy.

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    1. I think I’ve mentioned before the billion dollar atmospheric carbon scrubbing facility in Iceland operating at full capacity for 24 hours will scrub about 10 tons. The world produces about 12-13 million tons in the same time frame, so we would need at least 1,200,000 such facilities just to break even! At a cost of a billion dollars each… well, what word describes over 999 trillion dollars? Gazillion? Quadrillion? Bazillion? In any case, I don’t think even the possibility makes much sense, not to mention the cost. Oil and gas companies LOVE this idea.

      Carbon sequestration is the same problem if we’re talking the pumping of scrubbed CO2 into the ground. Again, oil and gas companies pay a lot of advertising dollars to pretend this, too, is a ‘solution’. But cost and efficiency and capability is dwarfed by the problem. (Shhh… that admission might knock Exxon-Mobile off the 10 best sustainable environmental companies on the S&P index.) And we can’t even cap the abandoned fracking wells using less that nearly half a trillion dollars of public money… more than the entire value of the oil and gas extracted using this method… while guaranteeing polluted ground water for thousand of years. What a deal!

      By far, the best solution remains renewables. But I notice some utility companies in the US are passing the infrastructure costs they incur especially for building offshore wind directly to the consumers at massively inflated prices to be artificially made more expensive by this than oil, gas, and coal for the same amount of power produced. This is a huge fraud case waiting to happen. But, golly gee whiz, I wonder who owns majority stocks in these utility companies? Things go better with Koch, donchaknow, and it comes with a catchy song, too. We’ll just call gas ‘clean’ energy. There. All fixed now.

      This is why it will take either a public takeover with regulatory teeth of these utilities today who, by hook and by crook slow the transition as much as possible to efficient and cheap renewables OR new public utilities with a non profit, sustainable mission principle (which is how most utilities began until established and then ‘purchased’ for a dollar by some ‘investors’ group… that is to say, backroom wheeling and dealing with corrupt politicians).

      Anyway, JZ, the merchants of doubt are hard at work, making money hand over fist, ‘helping’ people to ‘do their own research’ and believe some later fix will take care of everything.

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      1. Good system in OZ — On your utility bill you can select renewables or coal. Tick renewables and your bill is more expensive, but you’re investing in (and voting for) the alternatives.

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        1. Yes, it’s all about reaching ‘net zero’ by 2050. This ‘approach’ is organized by various petroleum organizations and institutes and then sold/lobbied/advertised to each country’s government and media as if coming from reputable climate science sources. It’s not just a sham but a war. And the planet is losing.

          Here’s the most accurate description I’ve come across yet: here.

          This is what humanity is up against and why people like Ron feel justified about their denialism (often self-described as ‘skeptical’). And the bad guy? Renewables and those who point out the real world effect. We call that information ‘doom and gloom’ and its tone is ‘hysterical’. Sound familiar? It’s like always describing criticism of religion as ‘strident’ and ‘shrill’ and those who do it ‘angry atheists’ who ‘hate god’.

          This climate change denialism takes many forms but the programs to address it is a global campaign to keep the taps for carbon burning wide open and quite brilliant at fooling the public that their money is being used to ‘address’ climate change.

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          1. Net Zero promises are mostly bullshit. It’s like telling your doctor “I’m gong to quit smoking… in eighteen years… and before then I’m going to smoke double.”

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          2. Good vid. As far the electricity bills go (and I might be mistaken), I’m pretty sure it’s actually for real producers (wind/solar/geothermal) who’re selling into the grid.

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  3. Here’s where we are… where there is very little difference between knowing which is fiction and which is reality.

    The scope of the rapid change in climate patterns is sometimes breathtaking, like the heat wave in England this week not just setting new high temperatures but SHATTERING records. And we have to wait to find out just how many fatalities were caused. These are real people in real life absolutely unprepared by government and media and culture for what this kind of event MEANS. Hence, the very sad irony of why there is so-called ‘hysteria’ (is the meteorologist hysterical in your opinion?) when so many people who should know better simply refuse to understand, refuse to ‘look up’.

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      1. Seriously, Jim? You think this site is somehow worthwhile?

        The ‘answer’ you suggest is worthwhile contains a quote mined from the East Anglia email dump. It does not mean what you and the mechanical engineer and psychologist who run this site want it to mean. Michael Mann won his lawsuit against those who tried to paint this exchange in a similar way as if evidence of a conspiracy. It’s not. It’s how science operates between scientists. You’ve been duped.

        Notice how the question is phrased to elicit a specific response. This question is asked under false pretenses and has nothing to do with understanding climate change. It is arranged as if to demonstrate climate science is false. And you’ve swallowed it wholesale. This is the same denialist tactic used by creationists to paint evolution as a similar kind of scientific conspiracy. You should recognize the tactic by now.

        This question is crafted this way for a reason: to advance climate change denialism because singular weather events are NOT used by climate scientists to demonstrate climate change; rather (and as I have said repeatedly) the sum change in weather PATTERNS are revealed by changes in rates and frequencies of extreme weather events. And we understand the mechanisms of how this presents in weather. These are predictable climate responses to human caused behaviours and practices and have proved to be on the low end of estimates in the models. This is how denialist sites with an agenda like Just Facts operate.

        There are better denialist sites, too, if that’s what you need (for those who use the Googles to search out what APPEARS to support their contrary and often conspiratorial beliefs). I recommend WattsUp as probably the best denialist site going. (I won’t link to it because I actually respect reality and what’s true about it and it’s plenty hard enough without imposing my preferred beliefs on what I want to find out.)

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        1. I did not in any way agree with the site. Sorry I wasn’t clear on that. This is the kind of information we’re up against and it’s very popular.
          The way it is phrased is a rallying point and is totally the wrong question.

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            1. I do think it’s more comprehensive at this point than eliminating carbon use. Even breaching the dams would likely cause some climatic event.
              When the world shut down for COVID I remember the skies were clear and blue like when we were kids. I wonder if those months of low carbon emission showed up anywhere in the data?

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            2. In the graphs I have seen, global carbon emissions flattened during the first year of COVID. In other words, global emissions stopped rising at the same rate as previous years. But yes, the sky was bluer, the water cleaner (dolphins seen in the clear water of Venice!), and the air fresher than I can remember… until the smoke from massive brush and forest fires a thousand miles away turned the skies orange and the air hazy. For months.

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            3. Dams have little to do with almost all of the climate change problem. The volume of atmospheric carbon from dams is extremely low compared to our global energy system based on burning fossil fuels. This, however, is but one effect here in this video and it’s not sudden and it’s not a surprise and it’s been unfolding in slow motion for over two decades while people wait and hope and pray a solution literally falls out of the sky while they ignore the oncoming effects (perhaps when it’s too late) that will have a MASSIVE effect on the entire biosphere of central North America.

              Now, the ‘solution’ is trying to treat a symptom of the problem by spending untold billions of dollars for a single mitigating strategy – piping in water from the ocean over several mountain ranges and being subject to daily tectonic activity.

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            4. Interesting. I guess Brigham Young never saw this coming.
              I realize I’ve gotten off track. The main topic was fuel powered generators produce less carbon than the reservoirs.
              Weren’t they pumping water out of the lake in the 80’s? It would be flat out silly to pump sea water into the GSL. i wonder what environmental disaster that would instigate?

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  4. Jim, we’ve been listening to naysayers since Rachel Carson wrote her groundbreaking book which, unfortunately, no one bothered to transfer into action. As long as capitalists are running the planet, we can expect it to be run into the steaming mess it has already assumed. The planet is literally on fire and we still aren’t having any meaningful planning or discussion.

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    1. It could just be that everything we have believed done (and to fix what was done) has been the wrong approach. As long as we demand this level of energy, comfort, and convenience there is no turning back under the current science.
      For every person that chooses to live simply, a hundred thousand more join the game of accumulation.

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      1. I don’t think this is accurate, Jim. Again, what is the problem?

        Humans and their activities, after all and at the end of the day, are as much a part of the ‘natural’ world as anything else. So learning how to balance that activity with the sustainability of the biosphere is far more important than assuming the ‘Man bad, Nature good’ idiocy that has dribbled out of the environmental movement for decades.

        If you don’t get understanding ‘the problem’ part right, no amount of anything else termed ‘solution’ matters a tinker’s damn when it comes to climate change. All these supposed ‘solutions’ do is fool people into believing what isn’t true in reality while the problem continues unabated.

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        1. Saturation has occurred. Temperatures are rising. Why?
          Ask any scientist if climate change is man made, what should be the correct response “I don’t know”—Elon Musk
          Because they don’t. Though it’s 97% popular to say so, the pressure to fall in line with this ideology shuts the door on authentic scientific inquiry outside of what is believed.
          We’ve taken away the earths ability to process carbon by building dams. Over 13,000 miles of streams in the Columbia watershed alone. This in not inconsequential as we will find out as more time is spent on it.

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          1. I can’t find that Musk reference online, Jim. But even if true I will take the expert consensus opinion by climate scientistswhen it comes to climate. If the two disagree, then I’ll err on the side of scientific consensus. That’s not an ideology, as you falsely portray it to be; that’s knowledge about climate and the likelihood of how it operates by impersonal materialistic forces. Confidence of over 95% is called ‘consensus’, Jim.

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            1. I’m not arguing about fossil fuel damaging the environment. I’m arguing that our constricted watersheds are interrupting the scrub cycles—an area willingly overlooked in favor of “clean energy” hydropower which has a plethora of drawbacks. With 3700 more large dams proposed and in the works our efforts will do none of the promised results.

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    2. Capitalists will be the necessary fuel for this transition and capitalism is the economy we have to work with. That’s not the problem here. Transitioning to renewables ain’t gunna happen if it doesn’t make financial sense. That’s vital. And so it matters a very great deal that switching to renewables DOES make financial sense now in all kinds of ways. That’s what Musk has proven. But shame on him for being so successful, apparently, at building from the ground up and in spite of dedicated opposition an energy technology company that leads the world in how to do this. How embarrassing, I guess.

      So look at how Musk – who has done more than any other human OR government in history to drive this renewable change into profitability across all platforms involved – is so heavily and regularly vilified as some kind of evil monster. ‘Cause he’s rich, donchaknow. We can’t have that.

      Such a helpful attitude.

      So is it really all the fault of ‘capitalists’?

      Let’s look at how Bill Gates – who regularly risks billions to short sell Tesla and profit when its stock declines over the short term – is immune from criticism for regularly doing so. Look at how Biden didn’t even invite Musk to Washington to come up with shaping federal policy about transitioning the automotive industry away from the ICE foundation it continues to use. Being unionized supporters is more important than actually addressing the proble, you see. That’s not capitalism’s fault: that the level of the most selfish political opportunism hard at work without a peep of criticism. So the dumbfuckery from the Democratic party leadership of the world’s greatest historical emitter of GHG is far more relevant than the notion of ‘capitalists’ causing and maintaining the problem of climate change. And the same dumbfuckery from the general base of the Dem’s supporters not realizing the colossal stupidity involved from their elected leaders and main financiers seems to be its very lifeblood these days. But it’s all good if we just focus on the right pronouns and blame systemic racism and colonial capitalism for everything else.

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        1. This use of child labor for cobalt is one of the major reasons Tesla has a contract with Indonesia for nickle. Better energy density. Many billions of dollars and jobs for Indonesia. A stable supply for Tesla batteries.

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            1. Yup. All part of the current mining process. But there has to be a better way than the environmental degradation model of business-as-usual.

              That being the case, Musk has said that part of the conditions for the massive agreement (open ended multi-billion dollar contract) means the nickle is to be mined in an efficient yet environmentally sensitive way to meet the ESG requirements (Environmental, Social, and corporate Governance). Indonesia has agreed. How that plays out is worth keeping an eye on. Because the mining itself is not under Tesla control, there’s only so much Musk can do. In the rest of the businesses he operates, environmental considerations and sustainability play primary roles in how the technology he uses is developed and implemented. And it’s constantly being improved. So Tesla has a far better track record than most companies. This should be recognized. And these considerations are implemented as part of the vertical integration model where all of the supply chain is inhouse (controlled by the company). I know several Canadian nickle companies were considered for purchase under this umbrella but the massive nickle reserves in Indonesia over time I think certainly played a key role in the final decision. Let’s hope this is a watershed moment of improvement for the industry because it’s a VERY long term investment and not a quarterly profit driven decision. Maybe that will make a significant difference. We’ll see, but I am hopeful.

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            2. But aren’t there any sustainable alternatives to this? We thought green energy is clean but that has its own implications. They said solar energy powered vehicles aren’t practical, what else do we have?
              Western countries have the infrastructure to switch to electric vehicles but considering my country, it isn’t feasible just yet. Our roads are the worst and the system isn’t ideal.

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            3. Yes there are, and Tesla is also producing an iron battery for the Model Y using the 4860 battery cell. There are trade-offs, however. Because of the weight, iron is used more for the large battery storage units.

              The switch to renewables will be accompanied by various challenges. This is to be expected. There’s a reason renewables are considered ‘alternative’ energy; it has to compete with a massive infrastructure and common usage for burning oil and gas that is publicly subsidized to the tune of many hundreds of billions of dollars globally! Of course there are going to be significant challenges. But, at the end of the day, not doing this switch for whatever reasons you want to raise in the name of ‘environmentalism’ is going to make the planet in a relatively short period of time very hostile to humans. So we are going to have to compromise in the short run to get this done on a global scale and there will be environmental costs to doing so. Once it’s done, and we take away the economic reasons for burning carbon, we can THEN figure out better, more sustainable, more efficient, and cheaper ways of increasing renewable energy for all.

              To get an idea of the scope and scale needed today, a solar farm in Nevada of 200 miles long and 120 miles wide would produce more energy than the US uses in a year. This scope and scale is not impossible to achieve with political will but it also requires technological innovation to implement for use in land, water, and air. That’s why many kinds of alternative forms will be needed to meet the specific requirements of, as you mention, terrain and conditions that currently challenge the use of renewables. Tesla at full production can replace less than 1% of vehicles currently on the road per year. So this requires what is called an ‘All hands on deck’ approach. And those who do so successfully can earn a shitload of money and help create a huge amount of good paying related jobs. Conversely, this is not a good time or career choice to buy a gas station or become an auto mechanic.

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  5. This makes sense to me. The water flowing down the river is still flowing down the river, but the water below the upper levels is basically stagnant now, and will be for a long long time. If the water used by the dam was being sucked up from the bottom I might dispute you, but being as it is not there is no steady exchange of water near the bottom of the dammed (damned?) lake. This would tend to build man-made pollutants into higher concentrations.
    But in order to suck the water upfrom the bottom to go over the dam would require more energy, Another Catch 22. Dammed if we do. Damned if we don’t!

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    1. RG, yes, creating a reservoir comes with many problems such as the concentration of whatever is used on the land. You hit the nail on the head about this increase as well as the stagnant water downstream if water (and all the issues, damage, and harm that raises) is conserved rather than allowed to flow. Specifically, concentrations of nitrogen is a problem that reduces oxygenation and can result in algae blooms that can not only be toxic to aquatic life but also toxic to people. That matters if the water is used as a source of drinking water. So dams do come with a lot of problems if not managed well by people concerned with finding that balance between river ecology and economic interests. So Jim’s concern is not misplaced except it not a part of causing global climate change. It’s a management issue where they do exist and a disappearing resource in many places that have come to rely on it.

      It is a mistake, however, to presume the principle of using elevated water to create hydro energy is at fault here. The principle is sound and a very real part of the solution to altering our energy source and stopping the rise in atmospheric GHG concentration.

      Reservoirs from dams associated with significant quantities of fresh water and significant topographical gradients were presumed to be the most cost effective way to produce not just electricity but as a kind of battery for energy storage. In addition, these were creating lots of attached business for various kinds of recreation closer to population centers. However, the reverse is also true when precipitation falls and those flows alter. We’re seeing this unfold today especially with the Colorado, which threatens the water supply for about 30 million people and significant percentage of the country’s agriculture. So this is not a trivial issue and, like climate change itself, far too many people are simply pretending there isn’t much of a pressing problem but one that will be solved when historical weather patterns resume. If only that were true! But that ain’t gunna happen now so that misplaced hope/belief/desire/wishful thinking is dumbfuckery in action. There’s lots we can do and many kinds of mitigation strategies we can implement to help adjust to the new world but all of that starts with not adding to the problem. And because we can’t even do that much, the dumbfuckery is only growing.

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  6. Reblogged this on billziegler1947 and commented:
    The arrival of a climate change that was predicted to appear around 2050 has shown up several decades early, filling continent-sized areas in Europe, Asia, and North America. The water cycle is another critical system in the climatological tapestry.

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    1. “The arrival of a climate change that was predicted to appear around 2050…”

      Climate change is an accelerating process. The models show us a range. The lower ranges were granted higher confidence more than three decades ago (and these are what appeared in the 1990 IPCC reports at 95% confidence) but today we’re seeing the higher ranges actualize. There are reasons for this, starting with the failure to achieve promised action. So the estimate on how much more GHG would be added over 30 years was too low. Prediction further away from 2050 than we are today selected this year for convenience only and then used the date to establish baselines. There never was a ‘climate change’ that was ‘predicted’ but a wide range of possible outcomes some with higher confidence than others and, as we get nearer to 2050, we’re seeing the extreme upper range much closer to the truth. And this is the result from only a rise of just under 1C. The impossible goal was to ‘achieve’ a rise of only 1.5C by 2050. That’s looking much closer today to 2.5C. The next major date is 2100, and the current trajectory puts us well over 4.5C. I will be amazed if we can keep it to 3C.

      For each degree rise, there is a known corresponding outcome in the frequency and rate of extreme weather. Globally. It’s exponential and universally bad for people in every conceivable way. Not doing enough now to avoid as much of these very negative effects later is a problem of our own making. But that sentiment has been hijacked by the oil and gas industry as if to be one of personal choice. They call this strategy the ‘Carbon Footprint’ plan and this is the darling child of the Petroleum Council as if each of us can do our part to solve the problem. Well, that’s absolute bullshit. Over 80% of all GHG emissions are caused directly by burning fossil fuels to create energy. Change the energy equation, change the input of rapid climate change. Without that piece in place, nothing CAN change. Hence the push for renewables. Cheaper, better security, more robust in extreme weather, and scalable. Most importantly, doable in the near future. We don’t need more dams; we need better and cheaper alternative energy. That is the core issue.

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      1. Thank you for these highly relevant points, tildeb. The petrochemical behemoths had been keeping their clear complicity corked since at least 1973, a period when gradual reduction away from fossil fuels was possible. A steady transition was not only possible, it could have been smooth. Yet, here we are half a century down the road, burning the same hydrocarbons in the same way. The planet’s entire thermodynamic ecosystem is constantly threatened by this toxic circumstance, dictated by bloated corporate boards and a billionaire class that takes this scenario to exponential levels. Back in 1973, we called this conspicuous consumption, it seems like minimalism in 2022.
        The website ventusky dot com shows how hot it presently is on the planet:
        https://www.ventusky.com/
        Thank you again for the valuable comment.

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  7. The arrival of a climate change that was predicted to appear around 2050 has shown up several decades early, filling continent-sized areas in Europe, Asia, and North America. The water cycle is another critical system in the climatological tapestry.
    Thank you, kind Sir. I am reblogging this to my site.

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  8. The carbon from dams comes from trapping organic matter under the surface that decays over time and releases as a gas.

    But the principle of dams is having EXACTLY the same amount of water travel from point A to point B. A dam interrupts the TIME for this water to get between the two point by collecting a bunch of it FIRST and then releasing it downhill. We alter the equation if we use the reservoir water – the water-in-waiting – outside of its natural basin called a watershed. We have done this since the dawn of humanity. The larger the scale, the greater the impacts.

    But compared to burning fossil fuels for driving the changing composition of the atmosphere into climate alterations by heating the globe, I would be very surprised if the total greenhouse gas emissions from the world’s reservoirs combined and multiplied by a hundred amounted to more than half a percent in total yearly emissions and probably far, far less.

    What makes more sense to me is a desperate attempt by the fossil fuel industry (and those who wish to deny human caused climate change by the burning of fossil fuels) to try to paint something else – anything else – as responsible for their activity directly causing a rapid increase in the rate of climate change. Hydro power doesn’t do this.

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    1. “Our calculations show that carbon emissions from dams had been significantly underestimated. On a global average, they release twice as much carbon as they store,” says Koschorreck. “Their image as a net carbon store in the global carbon cycle must be reconsidered.”
      https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/05/210513142403.htm
      We’ve interrupted an entire portion of a global, natural process. I’m also concerned about what we don’t know about the impact of this.
      I know the Elwah River project greatly underestimated the impact. A hundred years of sediment with very high levels was releasing double what it stored—that is significant.

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      1. So the right question – to understand how much carbon we’re talking about – is how much carbon do dams store? This is very difficult to establish on a per unit basis. But if it is very low, then releasing TWICE AS MUCH is still incredibly low. But that doesn’t grab any ‘scary’ headlines, does it? It only matter if it stores a VAST amount of carbon, in which case doubly it WOULD matter. So how much are we talking about? Well, that depends on how much carbon is going into it and STAYING there, and this is why I mentioned organic material. That’s really the major component. So the sequestered carbon trapped in, say, trees that are situated in flooded land will be released over time. That’s really what’s being measured here and so we know the total is actually quite low compared to global emissions. So the ‘double’ aspect in releasing this very low amount BY COMPARISON is a tool for denialists to try to vilify hydro.

        So how much carbon does hydro emit? This is measured by GHG (greenhouse gasses) emitted per unit of energy produced. Well, it’s roughly between what nuclear and wind on the one hand and solar on the other produce which, again, is exceptionally low IN COMPARISON TO EVRY OTHER FORM OF CARBON-BASED ENERGY. In fact, carbon-based energy by unit produced is about 40 to 100 times greater in GHG than hydro.

        Hydro – and the reservoirs used – is part of the solution to stopping the human caused rate of climate change. Any other attempt to vilify hydro for other environmental reasons is fine. There are real world problems and these are worthy of concern. And there are real world solutions to these, too. But to attempt to claim hydro is part of the GHG problem is straight up disinformation and anyone spreading it for whatever reason is working on behalf of the petroleum industry.

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        1. 2-10 cm per average year of sediment containing 1.5 to 2% carbon, x50 -100 years on average covering an area larger than California and France combined (large dams only) The numbers are hard to process. What is more frustrating is dealing with the amount of catchment area each watershed processes.
          On the Columbia it captures 250,000 square miles of runoff. Just peanuts though considering the entire planet has choked off a natural process. But to you that seems inconsequential. Not to mention what we don’t know. I think this contributes a far greater problem than previously considered.
          What was released over time (as you say) is reaching a point of saturation. It’s not pro petroleum in any way—we are just attacking 1 point of the problem and I don’t think it will work.

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          1. It’s not that any of this is ‘inconsequential’ in my opinion, Jim; it’s that nature is going to make it somewhat irrelevant. By that, I mean the catchment areas are not going to replenish as planned. Too much precip, major disaster. Not enough precip? Major disaster. For example, much of the Colorado catchment is in the 22nd year of DROUGHT! It once relied on both summer precip and winter snow melt. The snow cap is all but gone. (That’s a historical first.) The rainy season doesn’t even interrupt the now yearly fire season. That means Lakes Mead and Powell are going to go dry. No matter how many dams are built along it, the lack of enough precipitation throughout the basin renders them basically irrelevant (but not, of course, to the millions who rely on this water every day). That’s what I mean by nature making the issue you raise about dams here ‘irrelevant’.

            The same is true globally. Dams that are built for predicted and reliable yearly precipitation are a thing of the past so focusing on dams today – and all the very real problems you point out that accompanies them – doesn’t address the real problem here, which is the increasing concentration of atmospheric GHGs that drives rapid climate change and the changing weather patterns that accompany it. And that change is caused mainly by burning carbon, whether that’s your car engine, a cement factory, a gas fired power plant, farming tractors, or released from sequestration by melting permafrost or brush/forest fires. The carbon cycle today is overwhelmed and the planetary budget is nearly maxed out. When that happens (by 2030) then certain tipping points kick in where they become self perpetuating. (For example, the alteration and even stopping of ocean currents, the splitting of the jet stream currently driving the European heat wave, and so on.) I have found very few people grasp what this notion of tipping points actually means in effect. And it’s all catastrophic to human life. All of it.

            But as soon as anyone mentions this fact, an avalanche of accusations about irrational hysteria descends on the head of the ‘Doom and Gloom zealot’ and the person is vilified for overblowing this slow motion disaster too many of us refuse to face. That is usually accompanied by ‘clever’ people pointing out that the hysterical zealot is not doing enough on a personal level to reach zero use of carbon so why should anyone listen to this nut case? But the fact remains, if one wishes to address human caused climate change, one must advocate in every way possible for implementing renewable energy for ALL our energy needs as quickly as humanly possible. Everything else is a luxury we can’t afford.

            Liked by 1 person

  9. Jim, you say, “hydroelectric power has a greater impact on the worlds carbon cycle than fuel powered generators” and then give a citation for this that I cannot find any justification for stating any such thing. Can you show me where this comparison is made? Thanks.

    Also, I don’t know if you understand that what this paper is talking about is the carbon cycle (organic stuff in water that collects in reservoirs) that dams often (but not always) interrupt. Any kind of up river interference will have a downstream climatic effect. This is not news. Of course, slowing down or speeding up flowing water will change the turbidity levels and ’cause’ a different rates of particulate precipitation (as will a tree falling in river). So, of course the cycle is affected with large reservoirs created by dams. But it’s a balance thing, too: increasing carbon storage here will lower carbon storage there, for example. So, yes, cycles for carbon and nutrients and soil particulates are greatly affected but your claim is that this ‘adds’ carbon to the atmosphere and at a large scale compared to the burning of fossil fuels. This is an extraordinary claim that this paper CERTAINLY does not suggest.

    Your claim that climate change has accelerated by the building of dams (because organic stuff is trapped in reservoirs rather than flowing to oceans) that therefore dooms the reason to transition to electric transportation is not warranted by anything I’ve read here. But if true, it would revolutionize climate science. by somehow transferring the 80% yearly addition of atmospheric concentrations from burning carbon for energy (about 15% of that is from ICE vehicles) to bodies of water sitting in reservoirs. This makes no sense unless the entire science of climate is wrong.

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    1. Let me know what you think? I would guess you are partly right, but underestimate the global impact. Not only natural/organic runoff is impeded, but all particulate matter from smog, forest fires, etc, is trapped in this cycle and continues to impress on the affect of natural process.

      Click to access ncomms15347.pdf

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      1. The way to think about this issue is in terms of how nature becomes a carbon sink, meaning how damming rivers and creating reservoirs affects the absorption of carbon into ocean sequestration. The world’s oceans account for a large majority of how the natural world does this, which is why the the carbon cycle is used to demonstrate affect when interrupted by human activity like dams. In other words, how does damming and building reservoirs affect the natural carbon cycle moving organic and precipitated carbon over land (taking carbon molecules from the atmosphere through various kinds of precipitation and shifting these into waterways) and transporting this into the oceans where various mechanisms use the carbon to fuel marine life (this carbon sink cycle is one of the tipping points being maxed out in oceanography where oceans cannot process excessive carbon inputs, and this affects everything from salinity to temperature to currents.

        The past messaging has been that reservoirs collect this carbon and so themselves become a net carbon sink sort of like the oceans. This study shows that this is not really true, that interrupting the carbon cycle with dams has a long term negative effect and that reservoirs have a long term negative effect. Both dams and reservoirs in the short term actually have a positive effect in that carbon in the process of the cycle becomes sequestered sooner. This short term sequestration – the trapping of carbon – has been advertised as a benefit. This study (and others like it) shows such interruptions with dams and reservoirs yield in the long term a carbon cost. In other words, a negative effect. And this negative effect is much larger than previously thought. This is important insight and will have an suppressive effect on ‘selling’ dams as if ‘good for the environment’ by suggesting these interruptions are such BECAUSE they are a carbon sink. Well, in the long term, this simply isn’t true and by a large margin. That’s what this study boils down to.

        My problem is when such studies are used to then sell a lie, that hydropower causes elevated levels of GHG emissions BECAUSE the carbon sink isn’t as much as previously thought but a net emitter from the cycle over time. So here’s the thing: without the dams and reservoirs, the carbon in the cycle these trap and later release would still be there! But more of it would reach the oceans without dams and reservoirs. So the presumption is that ocean trapped carbon in this cycle more efficiently ‘sunk’ so to speak (while not having the same release factor that interrupted waterways have) and is therefore ‘better’. And it is in many ways… until the oceans themselves can’t take ‘sink’ any more… which is where the 2030s play such a significant role because that’s when this point will be reached.

        So then problem isn’t dams and it’s not reservoirs; it too much carbon in the atmosphere to START all the cascading problems. So the solution has to remain fixed on not using the atmosphere to dump carbon. Because all other kinds of sequestration are ridiculously expensive and incredibly inefficient, the best way is to stop is to do this at the source, to stop adding more carbon to the atmosphere (remember, 12-13 million tons per day everyday burning carbon for energy). No amount of mitigation is part of the solution; it’s just treating the symptom. The solution needs to remain clear with laser focus: stop burning carbon-based fuel for energy. That component is in the high 80% of all atmospheric carbon produced and so that must ben stopped. That’s why renewables are the key here and hydro as part of that alternative energy can be done without producing the problems this study reveals.

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        1. I think this is a very fair assessment. I also think you underestimate or fail to acknowledge that these permanent alterations to the environment have unforeseen consequences. The oceans are finely tuned to the process the environment over millions of years. Technology has a pretty lousy track record for creating even bigger problems, then creating more fixes that demand more fixes. Not that blame matters at all really, there is no moral end game, but it is technology that has us in this fix and now offers a solution. It is the reason for overpopulation, over consumption, pollution, and the depletion of ecological balance (and current economical practices) and it is the sole reason we constantly need more solutions.
          Let’s imagine everything gets switched to lithium batteries in the next few years? We’re talking millions or billions of tons of processed raw materials and an end product that is more devastating to decompose than carbon. What then?
          The solution isn’t clean energy as you’re implying it. The solution is a new physics that doesn’t require it. Hence, the practicality of eliminating the illusion of space time.

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          1. You do realize right, that it takes mining 500 tons of earth to get a ton of lithium and it is extracted using sulfuric acid? To put all ground transportation on battery power for the US alone is about 275 million vehicles. There is no way whatsoever this will not be devastating to the environment.
            Per kWh of storage for what purpose? Miasmic waste some future generation will deal with.

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            1. Problems with the world are the lifeblood of engineers. Everything humanity does and needs is a problem. That’s not a surprise. So pointing out a problem like mining practices in no way, shape, or form addresses the problem of climate change that will make the planet more and more hostile to human life. Sure, it’s legitimate concern and we need to do better (which is why I use the principle of sustainability to guide me).

              So the question of these problems you raise is putting them in order of importance by comparing and contrasting fairly and then tackling them by priority. You – like all of us – do this every day by tackling the basics of life you need on this day. To claim we might as well all starve to death because the problem of hunger at breakfast for you cannot be solved without harming something else, causing ‘imbalance’ in the ‘natural world’ (as if people are somehow separate from it by fiat) is not a productive problem-solving approach. (We have mythology to teach us all about facing this dilemma). All you’re doing is refusing to participate in the biological reality of the life you have in the name of something else… but then participating anyway because your ideals ARE constrained by reality. And the reality is that the major problem all of us face is spurring on climate change by using energy from the burning of fossil fuels. This needs to be rectified as soon as possible if we want to address the problem in a responsible and mature way. Out of all the alternatives, renewables offer us the best choice all things considered. Lithium is plentiful, available, and fully recyclable. How we mine it can be improved on many fronts and that’s where the engineers come into it. Tesla has improved its batteries many many times and this will continue while its use of carbon per unit of energy produced decreases every year. That trend is worth supporting, in my opinion, versus discarding it in the name of anti-human sentiment.

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            2. I have no anti human sentiments. There is no moral imperative nor is there any moral end game.
              That particular mining operation I just floated the stats on burns 11,000 gallons of fuel per 12 hour shift. We need at least 5 such mines to produce enough to make enough batteries just for Volkswagen to hit their 2035 total electric car goal.
              I think your ideals are further from reality than mine. In essence we’re going to burn fuel like mad over the next 20 years but really will never reach a point where enough mining has been done, and we can say there, we did it!
              No. The real solution is too intolerable for a soft and entitled society to bear. We are fucking entitled. What gives you or me the right to have an electric vehicle at the expense of some Indian reservation land that some poor tribe just happened to have lithium in the ground?
              The solution is to stop. We won’t save everybody but at least the human race will carry on—not that it’s important it does so, but that is our only chance—do nothing

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